Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has strongly denied that he stands to benefit from the controversial Initial Public Offering (IPO) of shares in the club he’s managed since 1986 – scheduled for launch in New York on Monday evening.
It is hoped by club owners the Glazer family that the IPO will raise money to pay off some of the enormous debts that have been loaded on to Man U since their takeover in 2005. Their acquisition of United was achieved with huge loans secured against the club, in the style of many private equity takeovers – but was hugely unpopular with fans, who have since looked on as large amounts of money have dribbled away from Old Trafford to fund debt and interest payments in the Glazers’ other firms, rather than new players
However, Ferguson has always been steadfast in his support for the owners, claiming that he has never been denied transfer funds, and has always been left to get on with his job with no interference from above. Indeed, the Glazers resisted pressure to sack Ferguson in 2006, which was rewarded when United won three back-to-back Premier League Titles in the following seasons.
Nonetheless, allegations surfaced that Ferguson stood to gain personally from the IPO, after a clause within the prospectus suggested that senior management figures will receive shares. Ferguson, though, has stated: “There is not a single grain of truth in this allegation. This is an accusation that insults me.”
While this may well be the case, Ferguson’s general support for the Glazers is probably a wise move: their ownership may not be good for the club, but Ferguson cannot change that – and any criticism he may hold in privately could lose him the job he has held for over 25 years if aired in public. Those factors, coupled with the loyalty he owes them after their support – and their apparent willingness to let him manage without a draughty neck – mean that the smart move is to simply keep quiet and ride out the storm.